Rosieistryingto
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I was wondering if anyone taking (AQA) A-level German would be able to give me an insight into the course? I'm really interested in taking it for A-level as I love German and the course looks very interesting, but I'm worried that I won't be good enough or I will be behind as we hardly do any speaking/conversational German in class and I'm really not confident speaking. I'm currently predicted an 8 at GCSE but achieving 7s. Many thanks in advance for your help!
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anonflamingo
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(Original post by Rosieistryingto)
I was wondering if anyone taking (AQA) A-level German would be able to give me an insight into the course? I'm really interested in taking it for A-level as I love German and the course looks very interesting, but I'm worried that I won't be good enough or I will be behind as we hardly do any speaking/conversational German in class and I'm really not confident speaking. I'm currently predicted an 8 at GCSE but achieving 7s. Many thanks in advance for your help!
Sure! Happy to give you an insight into my experience - I am a year 13 German student, and am hoping to study it at uni (it's my favourite subject aha). Everyone in our class was awarded grade 7-9 at GCSE, and we are now achieving between C and A* as a class.

We have studied topics such as family, the internet, immigration, the Berlin wall, the EU, integration, and more! I've really enjoyed the political side of the subject (this is mostly introduced in year 13), as Germany has such a complicated history, and remains one of the biggest political/economic superpowers of our time. It's pretty cool to contrast German citizens' attitudes with the British, and the course is much more relevant than at GCSE. (no more of the "I go to the cinema because it is interesting" jazz)

For me, the worst topic was art and architecture, because there is some VERY niche / technical vocab - I didn't know most of the information in English! I highly recommend a site called Memrise for your German revision (even at GCSE) - vocab is everything haha.

We are also studying a film called Das Leben der Anderen and a play called Der Besuch der alten Dame. Again, you will need to develop a lot of technical language, and learn quotes in German. Personally, I really enjoyed the film, but am not such a huge fan of the play. That being said, reading/watching materials in the native language does massively boost your fluency.

As you may know, there is also a project called the Independent Research Project (IRP), which is a two minute presentation on a topic of your choice, so long as it relates to German-speaking culture in some way. As the name may suggest, you will be spending a lot of your time researching facts/stats, and then translating it into German. Afterwards, there is also a 10-15 minute question session, where your teacher and classmates can ask you to expand upon any points you have made. Frankly, you really have to know your stuff! The benefit of this, though, is that it massively contributes to your final A-Level grade, and you are in absolute full control. There can be no nasty surprises, as you write the speech, and plan the questions you will get asked.

Another fun aspect of the A-Level course is that we have been learning a fair amount of idioms - these aren't necessarily essential, but do *spice* up your work a bit! I hope this helps - please do say if there's anything else you would like to know
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Emily_B
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(Original post by Rosieistryingto)
I was wondering if anyone taking (AQA) A-level German would be able to give me an insight into the course? I'm really interested in taking it for A-level as I love German and the course looks very interesting, but I'm worried that I won't be good enough or I will be behind as we hardly do any speaking/conversational German in class and I'm really not confident speaking. I'm currently predicted an 8 at GCSE but achieving 7s. Many thanks in advance for your help!
If you love German, are achieving 7s now, and carry on working hard, you'll be fine at A level. Many language students even start their degree thinking they're not good enough and everyone else will be better than them (I was one!), just to start the degree and find that everyone is in the same boat.
I honestly found that keeping up with all lessons and work helps loads, but then being interested helps. I had a fair few people in my GCSE class fail because they thought it was easy and didn't put the effort in and were then surprised, then a guy in my degree German class not show up between Christmas and Easter of 1st year who then was shocked that he had no idea what was going on... you're interested and appear to want to put the effort in therefore will be fine.

(Original post by anonflamingo)
Sure! Happy to give you an insight into my experience - I am a year 13 German student, and am hoping to study it at uni (it's my favourite subject aha). Everyone in our class was awarded grade 7-9 at GCSE, and we are now achieving between C and A* as a class.

We have studied topics such as family, the internet, immigration, the Berlin wall, the EU, integration, and more! I've really enjoyed the political side of the subject (this is mostly introduced in year 13), as Germany has such a complicated history, and remains one of the biggest political/economic superpowers of our time. It's pretty cool to contrast German citizens' attitudes with the British, and the course is much more relevant than at GCSE. (no more of the "I go to the cinema because it is interesting" jazz)

For me, the worst topic was art and architecture, because there is some VERY niche / technical vocab - I didn't know most of the information in English! I highly recommend a site called Memrise for your German revision (even at GCSE) - vocab is everything haha.

We are also studying a film called Das Leben der Anderen and a play called Der Besuch der alten Dame. Again, you will need to develop a lot of technical language, and learn quotes in German. Personally, I really enjoyed the film, but am not such a huge fan of the play. That being said, reading/watching materials in the native language does massively boost your fluency.

As you may know, there is also a project called the Independent Research Project (IRP), which is a two minute presentation on a topic of your choice, so long as it relates to German-speaking culture in some way. As the name may suggest, you will be spending a lot of your time researching facts/stats, and then translating it into German. Afterwards, there is also a 10-15 minute question session, where your teacher and classmates can ask you to expand upon any points you have made. Frankly, you really have to know your stuff! The benefit of this, though, is that it massively contributes to your final A-Level grade, and you are in absolute full control. There can be no nasty surprises, as you write the speech, and plan the questions you will get asked.

Another fun aspect of the A-Level course is that we have been learning a fair amount of idioms - these aren't necessarily essential, but do *spice* up your work a bit! I hope this helps - please do say if there's anything else you would like to know
This is really good advice. (My A level German was WJEC and 11 years ago so you're waaaaay more qualified to advise on this than I am). I enjoyed Das Leben der Anderen, too! Hope everything goes well with the A levels and the degree works out.
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BenM8
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Though I don't take any languages for A-Level, I believe they are the most polarising in terms of difficulty; if you speak the language, they will be a breeze, but if you don't, you have 2 years to learn it to B2 (upper intermediate) [CEFR scale].

I also really love the German language, and is the first of many languages that I would like to learn, but I wouldn't advise most people to take it at A Level.

A Levels are difficult. More than that, stressful. The two subjects in the top 2 hardest A Levels are Modern Languages (grouped together), and Further Maths.
I take Further Maths...
Though perhaps more interesting than normal A Level maths, it is incredibly hard. So is A Level maths, but further is 10 times worse.
My point is that if you don't speak German to an A2 level already, you are going to have to put in tonnes of work just to pass.


So what are the alternatives if you still want to learn German?
Immersion and Conversation.
~
Immersion (surrounding yourself with the language; listening to music, reading articles, listening to podcasts... in the language) is perhaps the best way to learn, as it is how we learn our first language. You get used to the sounds of the language and the pronunciation of the words. The difficulty is knowing what the words mean, so you do need to do a bit of studying. Word banks are probably the best. If you know what the words mean, you will understand the podcasts / music / articles, and get to see how they're used.
~
Conversation (in the target language, with natives of that language) is how you solidify your understanding of the language. If you can make German friends, they will likely be willing to correct your mistakes and teach you new words or phrases. This is different to taking an A Level, because at A Level, you learn words surrounding topics you may not be interested in, and you speak formally (very different from casual conversation).


When would I recommend A Level German?
~
If you are interested in writing German Literature, or Journalism, then you need to know the language formally, to a high level.
~
If you are really interested in not just the way the language sounds, and looks, but if you are fascinated by everything from the history of the native countries, through the grammar rules, to the history of the language itself. Specifically, if you already take lots of time out of your day researching the background of the language.


At the end of the day, it is completely your decision what you pick, and you shouldn't make your choices based just off of what other people say, but I would recommend that you don't take the language at A Level unless you meet my criteria.
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Emily_B
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(Original post by BenM8)
Though I don't take any languages for A-Level, I believe they are the most polarising in terms of difficulty; if you speak the language, they will be a breeze, but if you don't, you have 2 years to learn it to B2 (upper intermediate) [CEFR scale].

I also really love the German language, and is the first of many languages that I would like to learn, but I wouldn't advise most people to take it at A Level.

A Levels are difficult. More than that, stressful. The two subjects in the top 2 hardest A Levels are Modern Languages (grouped together), and Further Maths.
I take Further Maths...
Though perhaps more interesting than normal A Level maths, it is incredibly hard. So is A Level maths, but further is 10 times worse.
My point is that if you don't speak German to an A2 level already, you are going to have to put in tonnes of work just to pass.


So what are the alternatives if you still want to learn German?
Immersion and Conversation.
~
Immersion (surrounding yourself with the language; listening to music, reading articles, listening to podcasts... in the language) is perhaps the best way to learn, as it is how we learn our first language. You get used to the sounds of the language and the pronunciation of the words. The difficulty is knowing what the words mean, so you do need to do a bit of studying. Word banks are probably the best. If you know what the words mean, you will understand the podcasts / music / articles, and get to see how they're used.
~
Conversation (in the target language, with natives of that language) is how you solidify your understanding of the language. If you can make German friends, they will likely be willing to correct your mistakes and teach you new words or phrases. This is different to taking an A Level, because at A Level, you learn words surrounding topics you may not be interested in, and you speak formally (very different from casual conversation).


When would I recommend A Level German?
~
If you are interested in writing German Literature, or Journalism, then you need to know the language formally, to a high level.
~
If you are really interested in not just the way the language sounds, and looks, but if you are fascinated by everything from the history of the native countries, through the grammar rules, to the history of the language itself. Specifically, if you already take lots of time out of your day researching the background of the language.


At the end of the day, it is completely your decision what you pick, and you shouldn't make your choices based just off of what other people say, but I would recommend that you don't take the language at A Level unless you meet my criteria.
On the contrary, I would encourage and advise anyone who is interested in languages and doing well at it at GCSE to take it to A level. I can't really tell what your criteria for A level language students are, bar already speaking the language at that level. Quite interesting that you're not even studying languages yourself. Having done both maths and German at A level, I found German far easier despite not being B2 level proficient straight after GCSE and having to put some effort in - I personally found maths far worse and was glad just to pass.

I would strongly encourage any GCSE languages student interested in taking that language further to do so. As long as they are prepared to make the jump from GCSE to A level (which is difficult in any subject) are interested learning about the culture of the country/countries where the language is spoken, and are prepared to put some time and effort in, then any languages student will be fine.

(Original post by Rosieistryingto)
I'm really not confident speaking.
Many GCSE students aren't that confident with this element, but it does come with time and practice - I found that A level really helps with this because you end up with a significantly better understanding even by the end of the 1st year of A levels.
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252s
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(Original post by Rosieistryingto)
I was wondering if anyone taking (AQA) A-level German would be able to give me an insight into the course? I'm really interested in taking it for A-level as I love German and the course looks very interesting, but I'm worried that I won't be good enough or I will be behind as we hardly do any speaking/conversational German in class and I'm really not confident speaking. I'm currently predicted an 8 at GCSE but achieving 7s. Many thanks in advance for your help!
Hi! I'd be happy to share my experience about A-Level German. For context, I finished studying AQA A-Level German this year and achieved an A*. Overall, I really enjoyed the A-Level and found that my interest in the language and culture increased significantly through doing it. Much of the content of the A-Level has been mentioned above, so I'll talk a little bit about the skills that can enable you to do well.

In my opinion, finding a way of learning vocabulary such that you retain it over the long term is key. Personally, I used Anki (other options include Memrise, Quizlet, etc.) and tried to do some vocabulary revision every day or every other day. The reason why I think this is so important is that it contributes to every skill that you will be assessed on. When speaking and writing, it means you don't need to search for words as often and can more succinctly express your views. In reading and listening, it increases your level of comprehension and means you're not simply just looking for words you know, but rather can understand most, if not all, of what is said. I would highly recommend learning words in the context they are used and not on their own; this really helps when you have to actively use these words in speaking and writing.

I would also highly recommend engaging with German beyond the textbook/syllabus. I found listening to the news quite useful as much of the vocabulary will be relevant to the A-Level as well. This is useful when you're starting off as they speak more slowly. You can then move to this which is spoken normally. You may also find this useful. As you may know, there is no defined vocabulary list for A-Level, as there is for GCSE, so the more exposure you have to the language the better.

If you're in Year 11 and achieving 7/8s now, that's good. I think anyone who gets 7 or above at GCSE can definitely go on and get an A/A*- but obviously how well you do in the A-Level will depend on how much work you put in then, as the level goes up quite a bit. If you do decide to go for A-Level German, I would prepare for a fairly steep learning curve at the start (you'll have lots of new grammar and vocabulary coming your way!), but if you put in place a good system to learn this (as mentioned above), you'll be able to cope well. I wouldn't worry if you're not able to get much speaking practice now; A-Level classes are usually much smaller than GCSE classes (my class only had 5 people) so there will be plenty of opportunity for that - just make sure you go for it when speaking as opposed to being afraid of making mistakes.

Good luck in your decision-making and I hope this helped.
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BenM8
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(Original post by Emily_B)
On the contrary, I would encourage and advise anyone who is interested in languages and doing well at it at GCSE to take it to A level. I can't really tell what your criteria for A level language students are, bar already speaking the language at that level. Quite interesting that you're not even studying languages yourself. Having done both maths and German at A level, I found German far easier despite not being B2 level proficient straight after GCSE and having to put some effort in - I personally found maths far worse and was glad just to pass.

I would strongly encourage any GCSE languages student interested in taking that language further to do so. As long as they are prepared to make the jump from GCSE to A level (which is difficult in any subject) are interested learning about the culture of the country/countries where the language is spoken, and are prepared to put some time and effort in, then any languages student will be fine.


Many GCSE students aren't that confident with this element, but it does come with time and practice - I found that A level really helps with this because you end up with a significantly better understanding even by the end of the 1st year of A levels.
To clarify, I didn't necessarily mean that you should be B2 proficient after GCSE, but from, admittedly just a Google Search, It seems like B2 is the end goal of A Level. Thus the jump from A0 or even from A2 (GCSE goal) is steep.

Also, if you look up 'what is the hardest A Level', most of the top results will say Modern Foreign Languages.
This is largely based on average performance, but the popularity of the subject is taken into account too.
Take for example, SnapRevise and ThinkStudent.
http://blog.snaprevise.co.uk/the-top...dest-a-levels/
http://thinkstudent.co.uk/the-10-har...bjects-ranked/

The worthiness of an A Level, in my opinion, largely comes down to what you are going to get out of it.
[Enjoyability is important too, though having fun for 2 years isn't going to help you as much as learning the foundations of a future career]
If, for example, you just want to be able to speak colloquially, the A Level won't be greatly helpful, as I believe the focus is more formal?

My criteria for taking a language at A Level was interest in Journalism, or Literature of the language, or thorough interest in the background and specifics of the formal language.
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Emily_B
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(Original post by BenM8)
To clarify, I didn't necessarily mean that you should be B2 proficient after GCSE, but from, admittedly just a Google Search, It seems like B2 is the end goal of A Level. Thus the jump from A0 or even from A2 (GCSE goal) is steep.
The difference is similar for any A level, there's just something else to grade it against with languages.

(Original post by BenM8)
Also, if you look up 'what is the hardest A Level', most of the top results will say Modern Foreign Languages.
This is largely based on average performance, but the popularity of the subject is taken into account too.
Take for example, SnapRevise and ThinkStudent.
http://blog.snaprevise.co.uk/the-top...dest-a-levels/
http://thinkstudent.co.uk/the-10-har...bjects-ranked/
I generally take surveys with a pinch of salt. It's like looking at university league tables - they're often biased in various ways.

(Original post by BenM8)
The worthiness of an A Level, in my opinion, largely comes down to what you are going to get out of it.
[Enjoyability is important too, though having fun for 2 years isn't going to help you as much as learning the foundations of a future career]
If, for example, you just want to be able to speak colloquially, the A Level won't be greatly helpful, as I believe the focus is more formal?
Yes, A level is more formal, but that doesn't stop it building a more thorough base for further language learning - I certainly would never have managed to form any sort of conversation with the basics that is GCSE German; A level results in a better understanding, higher competency and more conversational confidence which makes it easier to immerse oneself in the language and culture. It's therefore easier to learn more from conversational practice with native speakers.

(Original post by BenM8)
My criteria for taking a language at A Level was interest in Journalism, or Literature of the language, or thorough interest in the background and specifics of the formal language.
Wouldn't English Language and English Literature be more closer for this? Although languages would be other good options for these, you've missed the blatantly obvious - translation, interpreting and business
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BenM8
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(Original post by Emily_B)
I generally take surveys with a pinch of salt. It's like looking at university league tables - they're often biased in various ways.
Sure, but when you see multiple sources making similar rankings, you can't just discredit the reasoning behind that.

(Original post by Emily_B)
Yes, A level is more formal, but that doesn't stop it building a more thorough base for further language learning - I certainly would never have managed to form any sort of conversation with the basics that is GCSE German; A level results in a better understanding, higher competency and more conversational confidence which makes it easier to immerse oneself in the language and culture. It's therefore easier to learn more from conversational practice with native speakers.
You don't need to be able to run to walk; A Level will help you in conversation, sure, in fact, contractions that a new speaker might see as a new word may well make more sense, and even be more satisfying. But in the time and effort spent on learning the formal rule, you can make good progress on speaking colloquially. If you don't need to run, just learn to walk.

(Original post by Emily_B)
Wouldn't English Language and English Literature be more closer for this? Although languages would be other good options for these, you've missed the blatantly obvious - translation, interpreting and business
English Language and English Literature would be more helpful if you're interested in English Journalism or English Literature.
A formal German education would be more helpful if you're interested in German Journalism or German Literature.

Translation and Interpretation do not require an A Level. They require a level of fluency in the language. This is offered by A Level German, though it is also offered by learning the language by yourself.
In terms of business, it is much the same, though it is true that if someone is hiring for international business, they would appreciate an official qualification. If you are being recruited for a less specific role, would it not be impressive to list your qualifications, then add "and I speak German"?
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Emily_B
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(Original post by BenM8)
Sure, but when you see multiple sources making similar rankings, you can't just discredit the reasoning behind that.
You've provided two interesting articles here. They're interesting. Having completed two undergraduate degrees, the analytical side of me is curious as to what their sources are.

(Original post by BenM8)
You don't need to be able to run to walk; A Level will help you in conversation, sure, in fact, contractions that a new speaker might see as a new word may well make more sense, and even be more satisfying. But in the time and effort spent on learning the formal rule, you can make good progress on speaking colloquially. If you don't need to run, just learn to walk.
Time and effort on formal rule is just as important as colloquial speaking. With German... well, you really need to understand formal rule to make sense in parts of colloquial speaking. (Ever analysed the numerous variations of "the" in the German language? Clearly you've never the mistake of accidentally calling someone the wrong gender, or accidentally asked if they're gay, but not understood what or why you've got it so wrong because you don't fully understand the rules of the language. I learned all sorts of things about the English language from native Germans teaching secondary school English.) Saying the words and phrases learning them through other means is great but there's various things that need explaining to make the official language and the colloquialisms make sense.
This shouldn't stop OP pursuing their interest in German language.

(Original post by BenM8)
English Language and English Literature would be more helpful if you're interested in English Journalism or English Literature.
A formal German education would be more helpful if you're interested in German Journalism or German Literature.

Translation and Interpretation do not require an A Level. They require a level of fluency in the language. This is offered by A Level German, though it is also offered by learning the language by yourself.
In terms of business, it is much the same, though it is true that if someone is hiring for international business, they would appreciate an official qualification. If you are being recruited for a less specific role, would it not be impressive to list your qualifications, then add "and I speak German"?
I've been through the process of applying for these sorts of jobs. Translation and interpretation certainly require a level of fluency, but unless you're a native speaker then you need to prove you have that level of fluency and the level of skill to translate/interpret. A master's degree - preceded by A levels and a degree in the language, preferably with modules in translation/interpretation, practically the perfect way of proving this - otherwise, it takes a looooong time of learning and other formal qualifications to do so.
Business? "Oh yeah btw I speak German" doesn't get you very far. "I have this level of German language qualification/proficiency" does.
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BenM8
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(Original post by Emily_B)
Time and effort on formal rule is just as important as colloquial speaking.
Subjective. For some people, just being able to communicate meaning with someone that doesn't speak English is enough. For this, you do not need an A Level.
Regardless, you can teach yourself formal language without taking an A Level.
Here are just 2 polyglots that have had success in language learning without any official qualifications:
https://www.youtube.com/c/laoshu505000/featured
https://www.youtube.com/c/IkennaMusic/featured

(Original post by Emily_B)
This shouldn't stop OP pursuing their interest in German language.
1. I made it rather clear that my opinion should not be taken as gospel.
"At the end of the day, it is completely your decision what you pick, and you shouldn't make your choices based just off of what other people say"
2. You can still develop you interest in something without taking it at A Level.
I even provided some insight to this in my original reply.

(Original post by Emily_B)
you need to prove you have that level of fluency
You can do that without an A Level.
https://www.transparent.com/language...ces/tests.html
https://www.kmk.org/themen/deutsches...iplom-dsd.html
https://en.dsh-germany.com
https://www.testdaf.de/de/
... just to name a few.

(Original post by Emily_B)
Business? "Oh yeah btw I speak German" doesn't get you very far. "I have this level of German language qualification/proficiency" does.
Again, depends on personal goals. If you want to be a UN translator, then of course it's not going to be enough; if the job requires customer interaction (significantly more common), it could be the difference between getting the job and not, as long as they believe you.


And can you expand on this:
(Original post by Emily_B)
You've provided two interesting articles here. They're interesting. Having completed two undergraduate degrees, the analytical side of me is curious as to what their sources are.
Usually when disregarding someones sources, you offer some of your own.
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Emily_B
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(Original post by BenM8)
And can you expand on this:

Usually when disregarding someones sources, you offer some of your own.
Why do I need to expand? This isn't an A level essay. That wasn't disregarding them, I was just commenting that there is the grand total of one reference across 2 articles to back up where they've got information from and how they've come to conclusions. I've also never said that A level languages aren't difficult. You're the one who appears to have a significant issue with people wanting to take languages further than GCSE level.
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lol2468
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(Original post by Rosieistryingto)
I was wondering if anyone taking (AQA) A-level German would be able to give me an insight into the course? I'm really interested in taking it for A-level as I love German and the course looks very interesting, but I'm worried that I won't be good enough or I will be behind as we hardly do any speaking/conversational German in class and I'm really not confident speaking. I'm currently predicted an 8 at GCSE but achieving 7s. Many thanks in advance for your help!
Hey! I am a current Year 12 student and I achieved a 9 at GCSE. If you are not confident with speaking, try small talk in German with any of your friends that take it. Me and my friend try to speak it whenever we can (even if it is small talk) but it will increase your confidence!
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